Tag Archives: St Teresa of Avila

St Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), has fascinated me for years. I often feel unworthy in saying that I follow her apostolic, contemplative zeal and desire for God. And yet, her powerful witness has educated me through the years. She was a strong and important female woman of the Church. St. Teresa of Avila was named the first female Doctor of the Church.

Teresa’s own history reveals her experience and motivations in the monastic life when she speaks of a mediocre prayer life, lax discipline and a loss of zeal for redemptive penance caused by too much socialization with visitors. The Lord in His infinite Wisdom called Teresa to give Him her heart and a desire to live differently through an intense experience of prayer experience to renounce worldly attachments and enter deeper into a life of prayer. An experience, not a discourse, moved her to making this a way of life and a teaching. It is reported that she was being encouraged by a mystical vision of her place in hell if she was unfaithful to God’s graces. 

The mystical life of contemplation became a source of trouble for Teresa as many didn’t understand the new horizons she had embraced. What she wanted was to reform her own life for the sake of the Kingdom. How much can we learn from her on this score? Too often we give into sin and mediocrity, we give ourselves “a pass” to excuse us from the right path, and we settle for gravel instead of silver and gold.

Read her works the Interior Castle and The Way of Perfection. Pick up a good biography. Ask Saint Teresa of Avila for intercession before the Throne of Grace.

Recommended to St Joseph

“To other Saints Our Lord seems to have given power to succor us in some special necessity—but to this glorious Saint, I know by experience, He has given the power to help us in all. Our Lord would have us understand that as He was subject to St. Joseph on earth—for St. Joseph, bearing the title of father and being His guardian, could command Him—so now in Heaven Our Lord grants all his petitions. I have asked others to recommend themselves to St. Joseph, and they, too, know the same thing by experience . . .”

Saint Teresa of Avila
Autobiography, VI, 9

St Joseph guided St Teresa of Avila

“I took for my patron and lord the glorious St. Joseph, and recommended myself earnestly to him. I saw clearly that both out of this my present trouble, and out of others of greater importance, relating to my honor and the loss of my soul, this my father and lord delivered me, and rendered me greater services than I knew how to ask for. I cannot call to mind that I have ever asked him at any time for anything which he has not granted; and I am filled with amazement when I consider the great favors which God has given me through this blessed Saint; the dangers from which he has delivered me, both of body and of soul.”

Saint Teresa of Avila
Autobiography, VI, 9

Saint Teresa of Avila at 500

Teresa of AvilaSaint Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church, turns 500 today. Teresa is one of the most remarkable women of the Church who stood up to the bankruptcy of many churchmen in order to follow the command of the Savior “to rebuild my Church.” She was not only brilliant thinker and teacher, a reformer but she was an intense lover of Jesus. And from this posture, she is able to touch souls.

Several quotes come to mind:

“ Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul.”

“You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.”

“There’s a time for partridge and a time for penance.”

“God has been very good to me, for I never dwell upon anything wrong which a person has done, so as to remember it afterwards. If I do remember it, I always see some other virtue in that person.”

“Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.

Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.”

“A sad nun is a bad nun,” Teresa said. “I am more afraid of one unhappy sister than a crowd of evil spirits….What would happen if we hid what little sense of humor we had? Let each of us humbly use this to cheer others.”

“Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”

“Let nothing disturb thee;
Let nothing dismay thee:
All thing pass;
God never changes.

Patience attains
All that it strives for.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.”

Carmelite Spirituality attractive in Asia

Sts. John of the Cross and Teresa of AvilaI’ve been spying on what the Discalced Carmelites are doing to honor a great figure as Saint Teresa of Jesus (Avila) for the Fifth Centenary of her birth. Last evening I read a brief piece on Pope John Paul’s “Carmelite leanings” with his intense emphasis on love. The writer of the essay argued John Paul was captivated by the work and witness of Teresa and John of the Cross. In recent years I have been interested in the Carmelite approach to the spiritual life primarily because I’ve seen others radically changed by it. I have to admit, though, my soul is not Carmelite at the level of radical substance yet I am draw to what Teresa and John had to say.

The Discalced Carmelites report that in Asia interest in Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross is increasing.  A recent title at a conference reveals interest in Asia, “A dialogue between the spiritualities of Ignatius of Loyola and of John of the Cross.”

So, it is reported that hundreds of registrants in Asia are participating in courses designed to introduce inquirers of Carmelite spirituality through the eyes of two great Carmelite saints; there’s been collaboration even with the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan have sponsored similar Teresian courses. More work is scheduled for Israel later in 2014.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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